The heartbreaking look on the face of Vikings owner Zygi Wilf as he walked out of the Vikings locker room told the story of a 22-16 overtime loss to Detroit on Sunday.
When you take a three-point lead with 23 seconds to play, and your opponent has no timeouts, you have plenty of reasons to think the game is all but over.
Unfortunately for him, kicker Blair Walsh has been front and center for the Vikings' two toughest most recent losses, including his 27-yard miss in the playoff loss to Seattle last January.
Sunday, he missed an extra point that would have tied the score at 10-10, and he also had a 46-yard field goal blocked in the fourth quarter.
Walsh was asked what happened on the blocked kick. "I have to watch the film," he said. "I don't know what happened, to be honest with you. You can't tell when it's blocked. I don't know where they came from edgewise or what happened. You have to look at the film. I probably didn't kick it high enough, so that's on me."
On his third missed extra point of the season, he was more sure of the problem.
"Everything was fine, everything was fine on the execution and hold, it just went right," he said. "There's your answer on that."
Walsh still has a pretty good record as a kicker, making 84.1 percent of his field goals, including 78.3 percent from 40 to 49 yards and 70.6 percent from 50 or more yards (24-for-34). But he has missed seven extra points over the past two seasons, since the PAT was moved back 10 yards.
It still doesn't seem as if Walsh will lose his job, as the Vikings stuck with him after last season and I doubt the team can find anybody better at this point in the season.
Walsh didn't leave the locker room in a hurry before the media could enter, like some players do when they have mistakes.
"It's not luck," he said about his misses. "You're not in this business to have luck or hope things go in. You have to do your job and make them."
Could have extended
No one took this loss harder than safety Harrison Smith, who missed a tackle on Lions receiver Golden Tate in overtime that led to the winning touchdown. Had the Vikings held Detroit to a field goal, they would have gotten the ball and a chance to tie or win the game.
Smith remains the best safety in the NFL, though, and he had a team-high seven tackles for the Vikings.
"I had a lot of reps out there and just missed that one," Smith said. "You just have to make the tackle. I mean, it's not like you're fresh out there and feeling great at the end of overtime, but you try to fight through it."
Smith was asked how the Vikings move forward.
"Keep pressing ahead, we have to make plays when they're presented," he said. "Personally, I didn't [make a play] at the end of the game and we didn't as a team. We have to [bounce back], it's a long season."
Zimmer: No excuses
Coach Mike Zimmer was extremely disappointed by the loss, which was predictable.
"It was tough, because I thought we did enough things to win the game, but we didn't make the plays we needed to win," he said.
One of the big turning points was when the Vikings had fourth-and-1 from the Detroit 5-yard line and couldn't get a first down on a Matt Asiata run. I thought the officials gave the Vikings a very bad placement. It was surprising the Vikings didn't ask for a challenge, but they just lost one challenging the previous spot.
"We have to make fourth-and-1, we have to make the kick, we have to get off the field on third downs," Zimmer said. "We didn't do some of those things today."
Asked about the Lions' final drive of regulation, which ended with a deep throw up the middle, a spike to stop the clock with two seconds left and a 58-yard field goal by Matt Prater, Zimmer said: "The guy made a great kick. We probably should have done some things differently defensively. But I'm still proud of the guys and the way they fought today."
Prater, who holds the NFL record for the longest field goal at 64 yards, tied the mark for the second-longest field goal made vs. the Vikings.
Getting back to Zimmer, he was asked how he will approach his team going forward.
"You get back to it, and the encouraging thing about today was we fought like crazy, and if you do that you'll win games," he said. "You can't miss extra points, you can't get field goals blocked, you can't get sacked when you're in field-goal range. We did some things that were not good, but there were good things, as well."
One thing that was positive was an improved offensive line that gave up only two sacks after giving up 11 over the previous two games, and Zimmer said they will keep getting better.
"I thought they did a good job," Zimmer said. "They protected the ball, they fought, they got some guys blocked."
Typical of how the Vikings have beaten themselves lately was a series of plays after Chad Greenway intercepted a pass at the 35-yard line in the second quarter and took it back to the Detroit 18-yard line.
The Vikings advanced to the 14 and then proceeded to do the following: a 5-yard false start on right tackle T.J. Clemmings; a short completion to Stefon Diggs that was negated by an illegal block by left guard Jeremiah Sirles; a 4-yard loss on a run by Ronnie Hillman; and a sack of Sam Bradford for a 9-yard loss. That pushed them all the way back to the 40-yard line.
The Vikings punted instead of trying a long field goal. Any points at that point would have made a huge difference in such a close game.
• Marcus Sherels came back from a wrist injury, only to leave because of an ankle injury, with Diggs replacing him as Vikings punt returner. Sherels' big-play ability was missed as he has returned two punts for touchdowns this year.
• The play on the Vikings' go-ahead touchdown late in regulation was a handoff to tight end Rhett Ellison. It's only the third rushing touchdown for a Vikings tight end ever, and the first since Steve Jordan scored on a 4-yard end-around against Tampa Bay in 1984. Stu Voigt also ran for a 1-yard score against Tampa Bay in 1972.
• Two of the most sensational catches of the season were made by Adam Thielen on the way to the Vikings' fourth-and-1 failure. Thielen finished with four receptions for 68 yards.
• The recently signed Hillman rushed seven times for 30 yards and also caught a 32-yard pass.
• Jake Long, another recently signed veteran, started at left tackle and might have played his best game yet for the Vikings.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org